Grinding to a Halt: Tomas Hruza and the "Leinbrock Ideal"


For most people, a coffee grinder is a dull piece of kitchen equipment. Indeed, in this day and age of coffee granules, the household coffee grinder is fast becoming obsolete. Not so, however, for Brno artist Tomas Hruza, who has found quite another use for the domestic device...

What may sound like an orchestra warming up, to the uninitiated ear, is instead the product of the "Leinbrock Ideal" - an installation by artist Tomas Hruza. The piece consists of four old fashioned coffee grinders connected up to a computer. When someone turns their handles, the grinders produce a sound. The exhibit's curator, Dana Recmanova, explains just how the machinery works:

"The mechanism is very complex, but the result is very simple. It works on the principle of light and on the very simple principle of switch off, switch on."

On its opening night the system reproduced a set of stringed instruments, but can as easily recreate a saxophone or piano. Its ever-changing timbre adds to the unpredictability of the piece. At its unveiling, reactions to the project were mixed. Some viewers questioned its merit as a work of visual art, yet all agreed that it was an exciting concept.

"I found it very interesting, I thought it had kind of the elements of a science project in that there was some sort of idea that he was proving he could do, using a mechanical device and then making it interface somehow with computer technology and software. I think that he showed a very interesting command of both of those sides of technology, both mechanical and primitive and more or less advanced and technological."

"I like this instrument, it is interesting this technology and this sound, but I am not sure. It's only play I think."

"It's a fun piece, it's fun because there's this mystery within the coffee grinding machines. It's not clear exactly how the music is being created. I think it is the sound and the interactivity that is really the main motivation behind the piece, that's what I get from it."

The 'Leinbrock Ideal' runs until the 1st February at the Skolska 28 gallery in Prague. But beware - after a visit to this exhibition, your noiseless cup of coffee will seem a whole lot more boring.